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The Difference between a Drug and a Medication

People who are committed to treatment and recovery learn that there are many differences between substances used to get high and medications used to get well. The following chart lists examples of these differences.

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In summary, drugs are what people use to get high. Medications are what people take to get well under a physician’s care. Because people taking them will not feel or act high on appropriate doses, medications do not compromise people’s recovery.

*      Language in chart adapted from William L. White, Narcotics Anonymous and the Pharmacotherapeutic Treatment of Opioid Addiction in the United States (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services /Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center, 2011), 35, which cites Robert L. DuPont and Mark S. Gold, “Comorbidity and ‘Self-Medication’,” Journal of Addictive Diseases 26, no. 1 (2007): 13–27. Permission pending.